What’s the Difference Between an HOA and Property Management?

Oct 09, 2020

professionally managed hoa neighborhood

On the surface, Homeowner Associations (or HOAs) seem no different than property management companies. After all, both of these organizations utilize a group to help take care of several properties. They both manage the status of neighborhoods and ensure a certain standard is maintained across all homes. 

However, with a closer look, it’s obvious that an HOA and property management are very different. In fact, they take up completely different spheres. 

From writing rules and regulations to collecting payments and dues, let’s check out what an HOA does, what a property management company does – and how these two overlap and diverge from one another.

The Important Elements of an HOA

What defines an HOA? If you’re part of one, you’ll notice these common traits.

  • A Community Working Together

The main characteristic of an HOA is its name. It’s an association of home owners that work together to make their home communities safer, prettier, and more accommodating to all of its members. Whenever you have a number of people collaborating on that goal – whether or not you have a budget – it’s technically an HOA.

Some HOAs may be more extensive, while some are rather limited. HOA dues tend to play a role in this. If you collect more in HOA dues, the reach of this organization is typically broader. After all, it can afford more initiatives and managers to oversee the process – as well as execute the needs or instructions of the community. An area with fewer association fees, which is generally a poorer area, can typically do less.

  • Managing Important Elements of the Community

Often times, an HOA is responsible for maintenance of common areas. For example, if the swing set at the community park breaks, how are you going to fix it? A community association may be able to leverage funds to hire a contractor to repair or replace the fixture.

These associations generally help with problems that occur in community-centered areas. For example, you may build a garden in your community, then utilize HOA members to enforce the community’s rules regarding the garden. This can help prevent neglect, mishandling, or other negative outcomes, but on the flipside, can also feel restrictive. 

  • Often Includes a Board of Management

Depending on the area and community, many homeowners will participate in an HOA. However, that doesn’t mean every homeowner will take an extremely active role in managing the community living. That’s where a board of management comes in to help with more active needs.

In fact, if you’re in an HOA, you may notice a common trend. Many people pay association fees, while only a few people take an active role in helping with community living. That board of management tends to have experience, a relevant education, and a schedule which allows them to help with the “business operations” side of the HOA.

The Important Elements of a Property Management Company

What about the alternative? A property management company’s needs may vary dramatically from an HOA’s needs.

  • A Business Helping You Maintain Your Business

At its core, property management teams help you manage your own business through their business. The idea is typically this: A company, organization, or individual purchases several houses, apartments, or homes of any kind, in a number that’s large enough to make a community. In certain cases, this may be an entire neighborhood. 

However, property management is very difficult for people without experience or who aren’t present to manage the daily operations. Instead, an official property management team has the experience and expertise to do it correctly. This motivates many people, businesses, and organizations to seek out a property management company for that express purpose.

Here, they serve as a property manager’s guide. The team or company may bring in property management software, their own service teams, or other contacts (such as exterminators or maintenance teams) to ensure the homes, apartments, or neighborhoods continue to function properly.

  • Keeps Tabs on What May Need Updates

There’s always something that needs an update. For example, maybe you have a client center where residents can pay online and put in a maintenance request. If that client center utilizes an outdated method of security, you may need to update it once there’s a newer, better one.

But when do you know it’s out of date? That’s an element of business operations that many people overlook. That’s a property management responsibility that plays into their daily operations, and makes hiring an official property management company worthwhile.

  • Manages Many Properties for One Person

Most people turn to property management resources when they start to own multiple properties that need managing all at once. The ease of logging into an owner portal and seeing everything you need to know about your properties is very appealing.

It’s true that some individual property owners do still use property management resources. Likewise, you can seek out an official management company with even one rental property. However, most people utilize property management once they’ve started to accumulate multiple properties.

HOA vs. Property Management: Which Do You Need?

So, which one of these do you need? If you’re considering an HOA vs. a property management company, keep these factors in mind.

  • If You Own One Property

With one property, you may benefit from a management team’s ability to help you juggle the more difficult elements of property renting. For example, this may include how to enforce the rules, craft an effective client center, and strategize maintenance or repair schedules.

However, be sure it’s a good investment. It’s important to be managing vendors and not paying so much for a management team that you’re barely making any money. Creating a budget can help you ride that fine line.

  • If You Own Many Properties

If you own multiple properties, then the help of a property owner’s management team can be a great asset. It’s far easier to manage numerous properties if someone else can provide expertise, oversight, and suggestions for improvement. Property management companies can even hook you up with a real estate agent to accomplish more with your spaces.

With a management team for your rentals, property maintenance will dramatically improve. You may even be able to increase your property values and maximize your investment, under the right guidance. 

  • If You’re on the Board of Directors for an HOA

You may think that an HOA doesn’t really need a management company. As a matter of fact, professional HOA management is an extremely effective and useful way of maximizing the usage of your HOA dues. These teams, which bridge the gap between a community venture and a business, can help you with HOA finance and general community living.

From spending association fees wisely to appointing community association managers, an HOA managing team can make the most of your HOA. The HOA board, when paired with an associations management team in your community, could ensure better productivity – and a higher standard of living.


An HOA and a property management company have different goals, certainly. That’s why, on average, they take up different areas of the industry. However, property management software often crosses over significantly with the work of an HOA manager. 

These differences between an HOA and a property management company make one strong point: if you’re interested in combining your HOA and property management, there are advantages. Reach out to Citadel Properties for professional HOA management that brings you the best of both worlds.